Bearing banners of peace lighted by the soft glow of candles, about 200 people from a cross section of local organizations favoring nuclear disarmament held a vigil in Anacostia last night, hoping to send a symbolic message to the Geneva summit.
The organizers said they conducted the vigil in Southeast because they felt the cost of U.S. participation in the global arms race is evident in the problems of residents.
"The bomb has already been dropped here," said Caesar Marshall, an organizer and a resident of Southeast. "There is joblessness, homelessness and crime, but we are still spending money to build weapons."
The vigil, organized by the Greater Washington Community for a Meaningful Summit, started about 7 p.m. in Three M Park a block from the historic Frederick Douglass Home on Cedar Hill at 14th and W streets SE.
They said they chose the Douglass home because of his historical commitment to world peace.
The gathering in the chilly evening air, evocative of the '60s peace marches, included speeches by City Council members Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8) and Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), plus several local ministers.
The Montgomery County Gray Panthers came by bus, while elementary school age "activists," with little understanding of the summit or its consequence, hoisted signs bearing antinuclear messages.
"The children must be made to feel the responsibility they have in this world," said Louise Franklin-Ramirez of the Metropolitan area Gray Panthers, while showing pictures of an atomic bomb victim to several children. "They are going through changing times which could mean the end of their world."
The group then split into two lines and made their way to the foot of the Douglass home. Their solemn choruses of "We Shall Overcome" drifted up the heights of Cedar Hill and echoed through the neighborhood.
"I don't know if Reagan and Gorbachev will hear us in Geneva," organizer Marshall said, just as long as we reach the hearts of people in Anacostia and the rest of the city."